Leaning Into Compliments

Messages constantly swirl in our ears, competing for attention. After scrutinizing for content, intent and relevance, we choose to absorb, deflect or ignore. Think about the type of personal messages you choose to embrace. Maybe those that say you're a strong advocate or that you’re brave? Not likely.…

Receiving compliments can feel uncomfortable and nobody likes that. The typical response? It’s to downplay the acknowledgement. It’s so easy to respond with “it was nothing” or “that’s what anyone would have done.” The immediate goal is to remove you from the spotlight. Backing away from makes no sense, yet it’s the default response. So, let’s consider when your reaction might look different.

What if the compliment delivered was about your son and daughter? You’d likely stand a little taller and pull the warm nugget of acknowledgement into your heart. Sure, you might mention teamwork and influencing factors. But first you’d accept the compliment as the positive recognition it was meant to be.

Deflecting personal compliments snuffs out opportunities to strengthen relationships. Alternatively, daring to lean into compliments clarifies and invites connection. Wondering how to do it? Simply bridge the compliment to your reality. Give weight to the comment with a value-added observation, insight or concern. It means taking a baby step into your stretch zone. You might say something like “getting needed support is an ongoing battle” or “the new principal’s approach gives me hope” or “I finally feel heard and listened to”.

I can say from experience that it gets easier with practice. I’m getting better at recognizing the opportunity to bridge and strengthen challenging myself. How about you?

Susan Dunnigan

December 2022